LeBron James says his emotional reaction to the death of Gregg Popovich's wife came "straight from the heart" but clarified that he was not blindsided by the news on live television.
The San Antonio Spurs announced the passing of coach Popovich's wife Erin on Wednesday, leading to an outpouring of tributes around the NBA.
And Cleveland Cavaliers star James - with whom Popovich has long shared a mutual respect - was asked for his reaction following his team's 100-97 defeat of the Indiana Pacers.
Tearing up and appearing surprised as he took a moment to gather his thoughts, James told TNT: "Obviously, I'm a huge Pop fan. I love Pop. That's such a tragedy.
"My best wishes goes out to Pop and his family. That's devastating news. It's a lot. The NBA family, we all stick together. I know we compete every night, but when something like this happens it puts everything in perspective.
"I send my well wishes and my prayers up to the heavens above. I know the man above never makes a mistake even when you sometimes have to ask why.
"That's just terrible news. Best of luck to Pop, everybody in San Antonio, the whole Spurs family. That's all I can say."
Coach Popovich - I join the NBA family and countless fans across the country who are thinking of you, Jill, and Micky tonight as you mourn the loss of your Erin.— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) April 19, 2018
But James later clarified that the question, from TNT's Allie LaForce, did not catch him off guard as had been suggested on social media, with the reporter warning him beforehand of the news that broke during the game.
"I'm not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends, through texts, that a question was asked to me post-game and a lot of people feel like I was blindsided," James said in a video posted on Uninterrupted's Twitter page.
"That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask me the question and [asked] if it was okay.
"That was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich. It's unfortunate, it's a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers once again go out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.
"Also, guys, please get off Allie LaForce's back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. Get off her back, man. She's very professional and she does a great job at her work."
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Can great deeds of the past fuel the bid for Champions League glory?|
|Wash your mouth out! - Curry´s expletive outburst earns scolding from mother|
|Rakitic lost for words as Iniesta heads for Barcelona exit|
|Conte: Chelsea must overhaul squad to change style|
|Johnston: Liverpool can´t lose Suarez, Coutinho and Salah!|
|Messi: I like Griezmann, he´s one of the best|
|Ohtani says he´s not good enough for Home Run Derby yet|
|Mendy: France are eyeing World Cup glory|
|Scott accepts two-week ban for Walker punch|
|Braves rally for six runs in the ninth to defeat Marlins|
|MLS Review: Red Bulls upstage Atlanta thanks to Wright-Phillips brace|
|Warriors breeze past Rockets in game three|
|We have a quality squad – Man City chairman hints at caution in transfer market|
|Wise cruises to maiden PGA Tour victory at Byron Nelson|
|Matic: United can fight for Premier League and Champions League with experience|
|Golden Knights GM on Stanley Cup Finals berth: I don´t know how we did it|
|I did a ´s*** job´ defending LeBron James – Morris|
|Dembele suffers sprained right ankle|
|We know Fellaini´s not going to renew with United – Mirabelli suggests Milan move|
|Cavs´ Lue not satisfied with just one win|
|They even whistled at Torres – Simeone backs Griezmann|
|I arrived as a boy, I leave as a man – Iniesta in emotional Barcelona farewell|
|Lingard: Wembley loss my worst feeling in football|
|Cahill: Conte uncertainty affecting Chelsea|
|Sarri has run out of time – Napoli chief De Laurentiis|
|Barca boss Valverde salutes departing Iniesta|
|I feel like I´ve been run over by a truck or had 15 pints - Crutchlow|
|Four sent off as Ajaccio win chaotic Le Havre play-off on penalties|
|Sweden win shoot-out to retain world title|
|De Vrij penalty was destiny for Inter - Icardi|
|PSG? Maybe one day - Pogba coy over long-term future at Manchester United|
|Messi wins fifth European Golden Shoe|
|Gattuso calls for more malice at Milan|
|Barcelona 1 Real Sociedad 0: Coutinho stunner lights up Iniesta´s farewell|
|Lazio 2 Inter 3: Spalletti´s men seal Champions League qualification with stunning comeback|
|Royals reach play-offs as Kings XI come up short|
|Nadal sees clearly after Rome rain is gone|
|Double whammy for Zverevs as Mischa bows out in Geneva|
|Atletico Madrid pay fitting tribute to tearful Torres|
|Hull FC claim derby spoils, Dragons off the bottom|
|Buzarnescu battles through as McHale impresses in Nuremberg|
|Neymar an artist who will not need special treatment - new PSG coach Tuchel|
|Atletico Madrid 2 Eibar 2: Torres bows out with a double|
|Napoli 2 Crotone 1: Milik and Callejon condemn visitors to the drop|
|Iniesta starts on Barcelona goodbye but Messi rested|
|Nadal rallies after rain break to dethrone Zverev in Rome|
|AC Milan 5 Fiorentina 1: Cutrone brace secures Europa League group stage spot|
|I think I made a fantastic decision - Garoppolo key to Sherman joining 49ers|
|FIFPro appeals to FIFA over Guerrero World Cup ban|
|Neymar made mistake joining PSG - Rivaldo|
|Simple for Simon as outstanding Yates extends Giro advantage|
|Ulster qualify for Champions Cup as Biggar makes history|
|Neymar tired of rumours and staying at PSG, president Al-Khelaifi claims|
|Beaten Halep calms injury concerns ahead of French Open|
|Van der Vaart´s Midtjylland nightmare set to end|
|It has been a crazy ride - Klopp proud of Liverpool ahead of Champions League showdown|
|Raonic pulls out of French Open|
|Liverpool youngster Alexander-Arnold not overwhelmed by England call-up|
|Torres captains Atletico Madrid on farewell|
|Otaegui claims second European Tour win at Belgian Knockout|
|Green: Warriors play best when we feel threatened|
|Daredevils dump out defending IPL champions Mumbai|
|Fan shows off Monk face tattoo on bottom|
|Bayern Munich chief Hoeness rules out spending spree|
|Fury to take on Albanian Seferi in Manchester next month|
|Mourinho mind games won´t distract from Manchester United´s paused progress|
|My motivation is intact - Ranieri open to offers following Nantes exit|
|Shields would probably have made All Blacks squad - Hansen|
|Willian fuels rift talk by hiding Conte with emojis in cup photo|
|Marquez extends lead at Le Mans as Dovizioso crashes again|